It’s cold and raining in August in the south-west of France, so I treated myself to my staple comfort soup for lunch. When I’m working, I normally try to make enough of this on a Sunday night so that I don’t have to cook anything while recovering from the shock of Monday.

Chop the vegetables to your tastes. I tend to start with “hearty” chunks which can always be mashed a bit with a wooden spoon before serving.

  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped as you wish
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 300g leeks (or two sizeable leeks)
  • 300g carrots
  • 200g potatoes (two medium-sized)
  • 100g red lentils
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • bit of a vegetable stock cube

This is how I make it.

Chop the onions and garlic while you heat some olive oil in the pan. Stir the cumin into the oil then add the onions and garlic, stir, and cook over a low heat. Trim the leeks then slice and add to the onions to cook gently while you peel the carrots and potatoes.

Add the carrots and potatoes, pour in a couple of glasses of the water to cover and stir and simmer a little. Add pepper and a stock cube (I use a corner, generally) stir, then simmer a little longer. Remove any scum that comes to the surface then, once scum-free, add the lentils and the rest of the water and stir. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce the heat and cover. Return occasionally to stir and skim scum from the top. If you have a colander than doesn’t leave you with a sink full of lentils, you can rinse the lentils first and avoid skimming (apparently), but I find it therapeutic.

Cook gently until the lentils have cooked and broken apart, then salt to taste. At this point, I added a little more cumin (because I love cumin) then the ground coriander.

If the chunks are too chunky, crush them with a wooden spoon or give them a quick whizz with a hand blender. Adorn with parsley, in the absence of coriander.